They say that if something looks too good to be true, it probably is. That’s a proverb worth keeping in mind when you look at casino promotions, as you just know deep down that there must be a catch to all that “free money” that’s supposedly on offer via no deposit bonuses.
The idea of a casino handing out money for you to feed into their slot games is certainly a tempting one. On the face of it, it seems to imply nothing to lose and everything to gain. The stumbling block is the wagering requirement, which can effectively ringfence the money within the game such that there is very little likelihood you will ever be able to cash it out.
About wagering requirements
The wagering requirement dictates if you can withdraw bonus bet winnings and under what circumstances. To get your head around how it works, it is best to think of bonus money as something distinct from real money. When you bet that bonus money, anything you win is similarly ringfenced as bonus money, and can only be used for playing more games. The only way to convert it into real money that can be cashed out is to meet the wagering requirement.
So if the platform gives you a $10 no deposit bonus with a 50x wagering requirement, you can feed that $10 into the slots and try your luck. If you get a few lucky spins, you might end up winning some money, but that can only be spent on more spins until you have wagered 50x the bonus. In other words, you need to lay down $500 in bets before you can cash out any winnings.
You can still beat the house
That all sounds quite depressing – after all, you’d surely need to have some massive wins to convert $10 into $500. However, there are strategies you can adopt that improve your chances of beating the wagering requirement and coming out on top.
Before we go into that, be clear that there are no guarantees. You’re most likely going to simply burn that free money, so treat it as a free way to explore the different games and gain some experience before you make a real wager out of your own pocket.
To beat the wagering requirement, you need a good dose of luck, and then you can adopt a strategy to bring your winnings home. The luck side is obvious – in our example above, you’ll need a serious win somewhere along the line. To keep it simple, let’s assume you get one early, and with only $5 wagered, you’ve suddenly won $500. That’s fabulous, but now you still need to put down another $495 in wagers before you can collect.
There are couple of ways to go about this. Some people just play low bets on their favorite game, hoping it will pay out reasonably consistently and you can get across the line and still have some winnings left. The trouble is, that gets boring after a while, and it can be tempting to change strategy and increase your bet. Arguably, the better plan is to play a game that has low volatility and as high an RTP as possible. The regular payouts mean you can bet higher amounts – it’s like effectively sprinting to the $500 instead of trying to get there by stealth.